8 PR Tools for B2B Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is part of public relations best practices, and it’s particularly powerful in B2B and technology categories. By shaping and serving up a unique perspective, expertise, or insight, a young company can gain a competitive advantage over larger and more established companies.

If you’re a company founder, you have expertise that others don’t. Chances are, you’ve come up with a solution to a problem that differentiates your company. Even more significant, you’re an innovator whose job it is to foster that same spirit of innovation at your business. You’re full of informed opinions, fresh ideas, and predictions about your industry. How do you leverage that thought capital?

The answer may be a strategic thought leadership plan. But remember that thought leadership is not directly about capturing new business. Before you begin, make sure you or your key executive has a novel point of view and is committed to joining — and staying — in the conversation.

Here are 8 tech PR tools for a B2B thought leadership plan

Stellar bylined content

Seeing your byline next to an article in VentureBeat or AdAge is a great feeling. It’s a sexy way to display a CEO’s unique insight and often a great way to tell a story. The PR team should be constantly generating ideas for articles to pitch to journalists. But be sure to adhere to best byline practices. Consider editorial policies and trending topics, and be strategic when targeting technology media outlets.

Seize the stage at conferences

A well-researched speakers’ bureau can vault a little-known company into the media (and influencer) spotlight and help turn an established company into a market leader. A CEO delivering a speech, sitting on a panel, or giving a “fireside chat” can elevate their stature as an industry player. Until the conferences start contacting you, your company will need a team member dedicated to submitting to strategically targeted annual conferences. For a PR guide to executive speaking gigs, go to our earlier post. Women entrepreneurs in particular are in demand.

Expert commentary

Tech and business media are uniquely receptive to interviews and commentary from executives who are subject-matter experts. An impressive resume, coupled with a track record of blogging or speaking on a given topic is often all it takes to launch a founder as an SME. At that point, he or she can be offered to key media for comment on relevant news of the day. Are there rumors of a merger in your category? Activate your CEO for a comment on what it might mean. A scandal like a privacy breach? Perhaps it’s a chance to confirm your own security protocol. Relevant legislation pending? Offer an analysis to the business broadcast press. Here’s more about how to build a resume as a subject-matter expert.

Reach out to analysts

Establishing relationships with influential industry analysts like Gartner and Aberdeen Group is a great way of establishing impressive expertise that can lead not only to inclusion in analyst reports, but in the top-tier media who read the reports. The reports can influence customers, investor interest, press coverage, and general reputation, and they typically have a long shelf-life. But an analyst program required meticulous thoroughness and preparation. See this earlier post on making the most of analyst relations.

Publish your manifesto

The founder should be contributing to the latest industry scholarship by penning insightful white papers, which offer the opportunity to take a well-differentiated point of view on a topic of interest. It’s okay, in fact, desirable, if the opinion is lightly controversial or even contrarian. Additionally, if the CEO has a truly unique insight and/or an inspiring origin story, then publishing a full-length business book can yield substantial B2B thought leadership content and visibility. Long-form written content can reinforce the executive’s expertise, thereby elevating the brand’s authority.

Blog early and often

We feel that in the ideal world, a business technology founder should be publishing a regular blog series on the company website and on LinkedIn, dedicated to offering a perspective in the form of entertaining, informative content. One or two weekly posts can demonstrate an executive’s broad insight and communicate a distinct brand voice. Additionally, the CEO could strive to guest post on trade industry blogs. See our earlier post for a deep dive into blogging best practices.

Be the host with the most

Your founders need not wait to be invited to participate in other people’s panels. Create and put on your business discussion panel about a hot-button topic on which your CEO has a specific insight. Invite other distinguished business leaders, experts, and tech journalists to either be on the panel, moderate, or attend as an audience member. Thought leader panels can yield a ton of useful content like white papers, videos, bylines, and blog posts. We do this routinely for our B2B clients, with great success, and we have lots of information about business panel best practices.

Be a pod(cast) person

Guesting on a technology or business podcast can be another interesting platform for your CEO to shine. For guests, podcasting typically requires less effort and preparation than television appearances, and the medium offers an intimacy that print media cannot match. Like other media, podcast shows exist in every conceivable niche. Whether your company specializes in API, blockchain, or AR, there’s a podcast that fits the bill. For some cool shows check out our PR guide to tech podcast gigs.

Tech PR Guide To Executive Podcast Gigs

Placing your CEO/founder as a guest on a tech podcast is a great tool for PR pros to establish the boss as a thought leader and thereby increase a young B2B company’s profile. Every company has a story, and that story can be a valuable public relations tool — and the best kind of free exposure. There’s a podcast for everything: from Meowster for cat lovers to The Survivalist Prepper Podcast, a show for doomsayers awaiting the collapse of civilization.

The opportunities are exciting. You don’t even have to be in the same city where the shows are recorded, because most do remote interviews. Some shows have one or two tech junkies chatting on a topic of interest each week, while others may feature a panel discussion. Most have blogs for further exposure. The best PR opportunity might be an appearance on a show that regularly interviews eminent experts, tech journalists, or company founders. And you don’t have to be named Bezos or Musk to guest on an episode.

Let’s take a look at six of the best tech podcasts on which your PR pro should book the CEO.

The a16z Podcast

Currently ranked #10 by iTunes, a16z is the highest ranked show of this group. Twice weekly episodes usually feature a panel of four or five CEOs, professors, business leaders, and engineers. They sometimes interview big-time corporate chiefs like Ted Sarandos of Netflix, but most often they chat with early-stage company founders. The discussions range widely from in-depth tech topics covering the business of tech to its cultural repercussions. A guest appearance is a great opportunity to boost a CEO’s profile. Episodes include How Tech is Changing Investing, Creating a Category: from Pricing to Positioning; and How to Live Longer and Better.

This Week in Enterprise Tech/This Week in Tech

One of the best tech podcasts: This Week in Tech
As it affectionately calls itself, TWIT’s This Week in Enterprise Tech boasts the highest production value of the list. TWIT complements the audio podcast with a sponsored, highly watchable video production. Airing weekly, the show is usually hosted by Robert Ballecer, a Silicon Valley native and Jesuit priest. A pair of off-site co-hosts usually assist, with one special guest weekly. The specificity of the subject narrows one’s audience to the exact right niche. A recent episode is called What’s happening with the AWS Cloud?. Other episodes include Why Enterprises Still Tip-Toe Around The Cloud and Next-Generation Ssds With Kingston. Its cousin program under the TWIT’s empire of shows is This Week in Tech,  ranks even higher at #21.

How I Built It

The software how-to show How I Built It, currently at #42, should not to be confused with NPR’s How I Built This. With high production value and big-name corporate sponsors, the show chronicles the fascinating origin stories of tech companies. Host Joe Casabona interviews founders and developers from tech companies like Pantheon, Sitelock, and Mode Effect. It’s a perfect platform for a CEO to develop a reputation as an industry expert. Episodes include Neill Feather & SiteLock, Patrick Rauland and Building a WooCommerce Shop and Nicole Kohler and Content Strategy.

O’Reilly Data Show Podcast

O’Reilly Data Show Podcast, with host data scientist Ben Lorica, explores the opportunities and techniques driving big data, data science, and AI. He interviews one guest per episode, usually founders, scientists, or engineers. While not the most dynamic of productions, it would be a good place for a founder/CEO of an AI or data startup to get some experience in guesting. Airing weekly, it features a recent episode, How to train and deploy deep learning at scale. Other episodes include Using machine learning to monitor and optimize chatbots and Machine learning at Spotify: You are what you stream.

Hack to Start

Hack to Start calls itself a “podcast focused on interesting people and the innovative ways they achieve success.” Each week or so, the two co-hosts interview a different founder/CEO on business-oriented topics. Though it’s a more entrepreneurship-focused program than some of the podcasts, most of the guests are from tech companies. A recent episode is an interview with Hannah Donovan, the founder/CEO of the startup Trash. Other episodes include former Kayak marketing manager Gessica Bicego and Jess Brown, director of UX at Vice Media.

This Week in Machine Learning & AI

This Week in Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence, or known by its pithy nickname TWIML & AI, was ranked #60 by Apple last week. Host Sam Charrington, founder of the industry research firm CloudPulse Strategies, talks AI news, and interviews expert CEOs, engineers, and researchers. For those founders of AI B2B companies, this is the perfect niche show to boost visibility. Airing three shows per week, a recent episode is Surveying the Connected Car Landscape with GK Senthil . Other episodes include Machine Learning Platforms at Uber with Mike Del Balso and Data Science for Poaching Prevention and Disease Treatment with Nyalleng Moorosi.

For B2B executives at all stages, guesting on the best tech podcasts can establish them as thought leaders, thereby increasing the company’s visibility, establishing credibility, and of course attracting new business.

{You may wonder how iTunes comes up with their rankings. It seems to be another of Apple’s well-kept mysteries. We do know that Apple updates the rankings continuously. They tend to fluctuate wildly. Daily rankings can be found at http://www.itunescharts.net/us/charts/podcasts/technology/ and at Podbay FM.}